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Better Than Most is a regular feature of The Business of Giving examining the best places to work among social businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Denver: This week, you are going to go inside the New York offices of B Lab which are located on Chamber Street here in Manhattan. What is B Lab, you ask? Well, you will first hear from co-founder, Andrew Kassoy, who will spell out the nonprofit organization’s mission and purpose and then from members of the staff who will share their experiences of what it is like to work at B Lab.
Andrew: B Corp is a certification for good companies. Similar to fair trade for coffee or leads certification for green buildings but it tells us that a company as a whole is trying to use its business to create benefit for society.
Jen: We have a very open office plan here at B Lab in New York. And I think that really helps to create a sense of community and friendship amongst employees. So I feel like all of our colleagues will gather in the kitchen and will have beers after work and spend a lot of times getting to know people outside of their role as professionals, and that for me really reinforces the fact that these people are not just my coworkers, but they’re also my friends.
Amanda: When I first started B Lab, the thing that struck me most about how our layout reinforces our culture is that there is no hierarchy of office and space. So, the co-founders of B Lab sit amongst and with the teams of everyone at B Labs. So they don’t have a larger desks, they don’t have a fancier chair, which makes them really approachable and I think it resonates down to having all of our management be approachable and of ideas flow through out the entire organization.
Alexis: Speaking as an intern, one of the best things I think about working here is that I’m not really treated as an intern. I think at so many companies that they really like stress the separation between interns and full-time employees, and at B Lab we’re sort of treated as just any other worker.
Holly: I think that everyone at B Labs and everyone who comes to work here who’s successful is very independent; able to think for themselves and create their own space. They also take initiative and have a lot of drive to succeed and they’re all incredibly joyful, fun people.
Jack: “When does the new employee know that they really belong?” And I think the answer for that is very simple, it’s in the first day– maybe the second day. But the community that’s present in the office is really wonderful and opening the door… On your first day of work, you’re greeted with so many [founding faces] and they’re so excited to have you on the team.
Dannie: For as long as I’ve been here– which is just over two and a half years and I think for a long time prior– B Lab has always put out what’s called Friday fun day. Which is an email that goes out at the end of every week, actually pulled together by the longest standing non co-founder employee named Heather. So for about nine years now, Heather has sent this sent this email 52 times a year and basically what it says, “Snapshot of all the funny, silly, goofy, hilarious jokes, things that happened throughout the week.” And it’s [unintelligible] I look forward to and I think it really does build a great sense of camaraderie and culture of the organization and just brings a lot of lightheartedness at the end of the day which usually accompanied by four or five beers in the office.
Holly: And I think that the beginning of [unintelligible] silos ‘cause we were so tiny, but as we’ve grown increasingly I’m seeing evidence of silos. But what I think that’s interesting about B Lab’s reaction to that is that we’ve acknowledged them and we’re trying to deal with them, and really take the initiative to overcome them. And I think that’s kind of indicative of B Lab as a whole; there’s a flexibility and a degree of like nimbleness that we are trying to instill and build into the organization as it grows.
Amanda: I’ve been at B-Lab now a year and a half, and when I started last year it was three weeks before our annual staff retreat. And one night of our annual staff retreat is a dinner where we hand out awards for folks. What I do not realize then that I’ve realized now is those awards are nominated by everyone at B Lab. So it’s great to have an opportunity to acknowledge your colleagues and your peers on your team and then also watch those individuals be celebrated by everyone else in the room.
Jen: I think my favorite part about working for B-Lab and the people that we have on this team is that we hire just the most amazing individuals. We’ve recently had a staff retreat that was at my house and my mom was there and she came to meet everyone, and she pulled aside one of the co-founders and was like, “I cannot believe how nice the people are that work here. Like everyone is nice and all that, so how do you do it?” I think that that’s really essential to just who we are as an organization is that we just hire really good people, and so those really good people that do really good work, and make a really great family. And so that’s like kind of [unintelligible 10:30] of this organization.
Holly: I think that B Labs culture and the experience of working from B Lab can really be summed up in one of B-Labs principles. And to me it’s really the most important principle. It&’s the principle that it’s quoted the most throughout the organization, which is that we take the work not ourselves seriously. And I think that it’s a perfect example of how B Lab operates and how everyone comes to work everyday. We love what we do. We are incredibly dedicated to the vision on our work that we’re able to achieve. At the same time, we have fun doing it.
Letecia: I think one of the things I was looking for when I came to B-Lab was a place where people were happy with the end goal of what we’re doing. And I think something I’ve observed in other workplaces is that, it’s not the case. I’ve met very few people who were actually happy to go to work everyday before I joined B Lab. And I think that every workplace has different processes and the way things get done is different, but I think that the end goal is something that is really important at B Lab and that everyone really believes in and is very engaged in.
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